The Bizarre Case of the Woman Who Saw Dragons Everywhere

Via io9:  ‘Recently, a group of neuroscientists examined a woman who complained of an unusual ailment. The people around her kept turning into dragons.

The fifty-something woman said the problem had been plaguing her for most of her life, and eventually prevented her from holding a job. When people turned into dragons, she reported, their faces turned “black, grew long, pointy ears and a protruding snout, and displayed a reptiloid skin and huge eyes in bright yellow, green, blue, or red.”

A group of researchers who examined her later wrote in a paper:

She saw similar dragon-like faces drifting towards her many times a day from the walls, electrical sockets, or the computer screen, in both the presence and absence of face-like patterns, and at night she saw many dragon-like faces in the dark.

The blogger Neuroskeptic notes that the basis of her condition is basically “a mystery” — doctors found no brain abnormalities after doing multiple tests. But she did eventually recover slightly after going on an “anti-dementia medication.” The dragon sightings became mild enough that she’s held a job for over 3 years now.’

The Bizarre Case of the Woman Who Saw Dragons Everywhere

Is anyone reminded of the 1988 US science fiction film They Live? The difference is that, in that film, it took a pair of sunglasses found by the protagonist to see the aliens among us.


Salon: Have a Very Disturbing Christmas!

How to keep the peace with your conservative relatives this holiday: Complain together! The family that kvetches together … makes it through dinner without any tears … together

Help these kids today: America’s quiet homelessness nightmare is 1.3 million homeless students. This Christmas, homeless data is changing in shocking ways: Fewer people on streets, but a record for homeless kids

How to win Christmas arguments: Salon’s guide to defeating your crazy right-wing uncle. Your right-wing uncle is all excited to talk about politics this Christmas. Lucky you!

Bill O’Reilly ruined Christmas: Why his nonsense undermines the holiday I love. With every predictable rant by the human outrage machines, the holiday loses a little magic for me. Here’s why.

“The Nutcracker’s” disturbing origin story: Why this was once the world’s creepiest ballet. From pedophilic godfathers to gruesome seven-headed mice, the first versions of the classic ballet were — different.

The most awkward sex ever? 8 epic holiday hookup tales. “I asked if he wanted to have sex — while he was talking about his dad having a stroke”

Terrifying gifts from the 22nd century: The hottest holiday presents for a post-apocalyptic tomorrow. The world will be way scarier by then, but there are still plenty of fun options for Christmas


Steven Pinker’s Mind Games

Via  ‘Steven Pinker is every bit the populist. All but three of his nine books are aimed at the general public (“The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” is available in 21 formats and editions; the CD comes out this week). Dr. Pinker’s teaching is similarly accessible. Just look at the test questions here, culled from one of his Harvard courses, “Psychological Science.” He explains his approach: “The questions that psychology tackles are the ones that obsess us in everyday life: family relations, sexuality, kindness and aggression, the reliability of knowledge. Not surprisingly, many concepts in academic psychology have crossed over into popular culture, such as conditioning, Freudian psychoanalysis and cognitive dissonance. Exams that invoke these memes test whether students understand the theories well enough to reason about them when they are presented away from a familiar textbook context and are applied to real life.” ‘

Take the ten-question quiz; how did you do?